Peace and Love

On this last day of 2015, thought I would close out the year by sending out thoughts of peace, kindness, love and compassion to all.  2015 turned out to be transformational for me, with my retirement and embarking on a second act.  That second act is still under development.  Every day I think of new and different paths I want to go running down, pursuing my new dreams.  

We are spending this New Years Eve in Baltimore, taking in the Infamous Stringdusters and Cabinet show at Rams Head live, closing a phenomenal year of music.  I haven’t posted about all the shows we attended this fall, I might follow up and do so or maybe not, and just focus on 2016 music opportunities.  

I don’t do resolutions well.  So this year I will resolve only to be more frequent with my posts.

Happy New Year! Peace and Love!


Slow and thoughtful

I noticed several good articles about retirement recently.  I guess as the end of the year approaches, folks are considering whether and when to retire.   This article from the WA Post, When retiring, think about finding fun and worthy pursuits, has good advice and things to consider BEFORE one retires.  And another article by the same columnist Rodney Brooks, One way having too much free time in retirement could backfire that is pretty upfront on the effects of spending a lot more time with your spouse!  So my husband is still working, though he works out of the house which means lots more time together.  With our new reality, I usually plan to get out of the house in the morning, running errands, going to the gym, etc, so I am out of his way.

And this article by Michelle Singletary,Why do some people retire? Its just the right time-and they want to golf resonated with my reasons for retiring. No, Im not a golfer, it was the right time for me and after careful review of our finances, we had met our goals.  I do find myself telling friends that I don’t have anything scheduled for an afternoon or day.  So different from when I worked.  Someone I just recently met for the first time asked me why I retired?  As he thought I was too young to be retired, and I answered simply – it was time.

In hindsight, we did a good job anticipating the financial implications of my retirement.  However, I acted a bit like the turtle in the photo when planning what I would do to keep busy in retirement!  I found myself ill prepared to deal with my free time and sudden lack of structure in my life.  I am adjusting, thoughtfully filling my time.   And maybe I will take up golf!

Shuttering the Government

The clock is ticking on Congress, 5 days left to get some kind of spending bill passed.  Seems most of the talking heads agree on the silliness of going through another shutdown as a minority of members of Congress continue their march in support of the shutdown.  And the key contentious point seems to be funding women’s health?! Planned parenthood doesn’t spend Federal funds on abortions and there is much debate about the truthfulness behind the video touted by Carly Fiorini.  This morning’s Post has this article, Shuttering govt costs more than keeping it open, $2 Billion more!  Then the surprise of the day with Boehner’s resignation.  Like him or not, seems he is going to fall on his sword to keep the government running and that is a good thing.

Hopefully the Pope’s grace, humility, and prayers will have at least a temporary beneficial effect on Washington.   As I have said before the costs associated with government shutdowns are high, and it hasn’t seemed to make a difference in the past.  The Federal employees and the public they serve are the ones who suffer the most.


“Summertime and the living is easy” sums up my sunny season.  Not to age me however saying I think of these lyrics done by Ella-not Sublime does so.  My leisurely summer has been way different than past summers and included some firsts-like doing consulting work and acquiring a beach condo.

Fall moves into view with gardens looking dried out and weary, leaves starting to fall, and produce piling up on countertops.  The produce has provided lots of good eating and putting food up, I will make another batch of salsa and some hot pepper jam.  The fall garden got off to a rocky start, the pests almost wiped out the napa cabbage and broccoli, The snap peas are coming up, and the lettuce is trying to through the last of the summer heat.

Caught August’s full moon while at the beach on a late night stroll.  It was a very windy night, the surf was up with the tide.


The next day proved absolutely gorgeous, low humidity, and later in the day during low tide, I took the following photo after I awoke from a long nap.


We ended up the summer seeing Los Lobos at  The Hamilton.  It was sold out, and a great show!   And heres the setlist.  Enjoy


  1. (The Young Rascals cover) (with “La bamba” reprise at the end)


Not only is fall upon us but its shutdown season again.  To government workers and inside-the-beltway workers, the annual will the government shutdown or not is pretty routine.  Congress is back from their August recess and the 2 legislative items on their plate starting today are the 2016 appropriations and the Iran nuclear deal.

The whole government budget process is gladly in my rearview mirror, at least for now.  I don’t miss the uncertainty or workload associated with developing the budget and then the cottage industry around the whole shutdown process. We spent hours of staff time developing shutdown processes and designating critical personnel who remain working or on-call.  The plans detailed the process through the day leading up to shutdown through each day the shutdown continued.   There are a slew of articles in the press in the last couple of days.  Here is a recent one from the Washington Post 2015 Government shutdown.

A big part of this year’s budget process is the reappearance of sequestration after the 2 year budget deal expired.  Sequestration  will wreak havoc on agencies if re-imposed.  Agencies probe planed for spending levels at 2016 President’s budget levels and those are before sequestration.  And the impacts on programs are pretty severe also.

So stay tuned, the current wisdom is the Republicans will push through a continuing resolution, kicking the can down the road.  And it is a smelly can that won’t get better with time.


Its good to be home for more than a couple of days.  From June 18 through August 13, I spent 36 days away from home, about 2/3 of the time traveling to a beach twice, then to a conference and then to visit my mom in Missouri.  I’m trying to get back to a routine. I remember right after our son was born, my mom and godmother returned home after spending a couple of weeks with us and leaving me home alone with him. Mother kept telling me to put the baby on a schedule and I was clueless on how to get our little baby to eat or sleep at regular intervals.  I didn’t want to wake him to eat because getting him back to sleep was difficult.

While working I had a routine to my day, starting the day scanning news items and emails for brewing problems, making a daily to do list including phone calls to make and emails to send, reviewing the upcoming calendar for conflicts and to ensure coverage, attending meetings, and reviewing long term projects and monitoring progress.  All of this planning was quickly tossed aside to address the latest fire, be it a policy issue blowing up with unhappy constituents or operational issues like IT systems being down-that happened A LOT and appears to still be happening, or staff coverage or transportation problems.  A couple of weeks ago, there was a metro derailment at the Smithsonian, good news is that it was an empty train but bad because it shut down the station and the blue/orange/silver lines for most of the am commute.  I thought of the problems this caused back at my old position and all the kerfuffle and stuff just NOT getting done.

So I have an evolving routine including writing, working, walking, gym, and gardening (early morning before it gets so hot!).    Over the next week and a half, I add in helping son get ready to return to college.  And then I head back to the beach as we close soon on the condo!

IMG_2671We enjoyed another routine the other evening, catching ZZ Top with openers Blackberry Smoke at Wolf Trap.  Those guys have it down, what a show!  Loved the screens playing videos on either side, and they played a lot of songs doing most of their major hits + some covers.  Heres the setlist:

  1. Got Me Under Pressure
  2. Waitin’ for the Bus
  3. Jesus Just Left Chicago
  4. Gimme All Your Lovin’
  5. I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide
  6. Pincushion
  7. I Gotsta Get Paid
  8. Flyin’ High
  9. IMG_2688Foxy Lady
    (The Jimi Hendrix Experience cover)
  10. Catfish Blues
    (Robert Petway cover)
  11. Cheap Sunglasses
  12. My Head’s in Mississippi
  13. Chartreuse
  14. Sharp Dressed Man
  15. Legs
  16. La Grange / Sloppy Drunk Jam
  17. Tush
    Encore 2:
  18. Sixteen Tons

I loved the second encore, after researching a bit, ZZ Top plays Sixteen Tons in concert more than any other band. Weird moment after the show, while waiting on hubby to come back from the restroom, a guy walked by asked me what I thought of the show, I replied that I loved it, especially Sixteen Tons, and he was all upset  “they didn’t play LaGrange!”  I was like oh well, and shrugged my shoulders as he walked away.  But they did play LaGrange – so not sure where he was?

One more freaky, funny side show item, do you remember spray tans?  And how your skin can turn orange from it?  We arrived around 6 pm and were waiting in the parking lot as the venue didn’t open until 6:30.  A lady walked by with the most orange legs I have EVER seen, I thought about a photo but isn’t that rude?  I mean Hokie Orange, Neon Orange, Not Attractive At All orange.  After she passed, we caught her backside and the orange ended at the knees going up and the ankles on the way down to her feet, and pale white took over.  I REALLY wish I had taken a pix.  Too funny! Hubby was like “does she think that looks good?!!!”

Preserving and Persevering

I have started the canning and preserving mode.  Even though the first part of the summer with all the rain about did in the garden between weeds and fungi of one kind or another, I have managed to limp through it and now the plants look like they will continue bearing for awhile.  The tomatoes are doing better, the cucumbers have been slow but now are going full on, the peppers and tomatillos are producing non-stop and the eggplants have finally kicked in.  The squash rotted away and I didn’t replant timely.

In betweeIMG_0088n trips, I made tomatillo sauce and marinara sauce though both were small batches, about 5 1/2 quarts of marinara and 4 quarts of tomatillo sauce.


This last weekend, I made bread and butter pickles, using a new-to-me recipe found here Chef John’s breadnbutter pickles.   This recipe adds jalapeño peppers, some clove and whole peppercorns.  I really like the taste, a bit more layered and not as sweet, of course being the only consumer of pickles in the house-I have no one to help with the comparison!

I am freezing tomatoes as I pick them and hope to have enough to make more marinara.  I think I will have to buy some romas to augment my supply in order to make salsa.

I have lots of poblano, habanero, green bell, jalapeño, and hot peppers.  I will make stuffed peppers and freeze them today.  In the next few days will make the first batch of hot pepper jam.  The kitchen counter is crowded!IMG_2661 I am starting to plant the fall garden, ordered a hard neck garlic variety and more sweet onion sets.  I will plant some green beans, mesclun, kale, radishes, beets and turnips.  Also picked up some napa cabbage and broccoli starts at the local big box store, on an impulse, so will find a spot for these too!  And have been planning some clean up work at the community garden so need to start recruiting assistance!  Looking forward to a bountiful fall.

Summer Lineup

Grateful Dead and their reunion tour in California and Chicago in late June and over the fourth of July weekend garnered tons of attention.  We watched the July fourth Chicago show via pay-per-view, I enjoyed the show though not as much as hubby and missed some of it as I was outside shooting off fireworks.  I don’t consider myself a deadhead, having been to 2 shows in early 90s both at RFK.  Not the best shows I have ever been to, and after the second one I swore off any more GD shows with hubby. Even after Jerry passed away, I skipped opportunities to see the Other Ones or the Dead.  I did go to see Phil Lesh and friends in 2010 and enjoyed the show.  We know folks who made the trek to Chicago and heard good reports back on the experience.  Here are a couple of reviews, the first one – NY Times review is more mainstream though I enjoyed this next one, Alex Bleeker’s Dead shows review, as it is from a deadhead.  We have joked that we can buy the entire string of shows on DVD.

Since we are still trying to buy the beach condo, we haven’t seen a lot of shows.  We have tickets to see ZZ Top at Wolf Trap in August.  If we can, will go to the Hot August Music Festival in Cockeysville, MD.  Love the line up for this one with Railroad Earth, Shaky Graves, Infamous Stringdusters in the lineup and Cabinet, who I haven’t seen in person yet but have heard they are great.

Also on our must see list in September are Los Lobos at the Hamilton and Sturgill Simpson at the Lincoln Theater.

Christmas Jam

Los Lobos @Christmas Jam

I would love to go to LOCKN Festival however the cost is a bit excessive.  A friend purchased the VIP package for 2 and a “glamping” package and now can’t attend, given the beach condo purchase don’t want to commit that much money.  So will miss out on Tedeschi Trucks Band, Govt Mule, Little Feat, NMA, Phil Lesh and friends, String Cheese Incident, Robert Plant and Steve Earle.  Have heard from friends who attended in the past that it is a crowded scene though worth it.

Switching subjects, I did get my Nikon 3100 repaired.  I can take photos however the flash still does not work.  So thrilled that it is working again and lesson learned on taking care of it!  Will invest in a water proof bag.

Enjoying some beach time as we await closing on the condo, the fiasco continues though we are on to Plan D or E, I have lost track.  Once we close will have a post on how not to buy real estate.

Reaping or weeping

We have had just an enormous amount of rain the last few weeks.  The community garden has been flooded, leaves are yellowing, fungi raging through, and weeds taking over.  From here on out, inIMG_2488IMG_2479terest may wane as the initial blooms of excitement fade what with weeding, 90 degree days, and bugs-lots of mosquitos.   We had about 5-6 inches of water in the gravel walkways which means the rainwater cache system underneath was completely full.  Had to pump the water out across the field and to the street several times as we keep having torrential downpours.  The silver lining is we don’t have to water!


And while all of the hard work can be a bit much, the harvesting helps, tomatoes are ripening, along with peppers, cukes, squash, onions.  The fence at the community garden keeps all the critters out except for little chipmunks and squirrels.  At home, all my tomatoes were stolen, the numerous San Marzanos, and the Georgia streaks!  I suspect a ground hog or raccoon.  With the neighbor and her dog gone for the summer, the critters have free rein.  I will have to put up a fence now to keep them out.  We enjoy the Cherokee purples and mortgage lifters, making Caprese salads, BLTs, sliced tomatoes on sausage biscuits, hopefully I will start canning tomatoes very soon.


Just Zippy!

It seems I have a lot on my mind however when I try and put it down on paper… pffft! its gone.  This will be a disjointed and rambling post as I write about the stuff filling my days.

I have a consulting agreement and have been helping a company with proposal development.  I have found it interesting, challenging, tiring, and rewarding.  I have established my own LLC, set up the accounting, generated invoices, ordered business cards, and am in process on my resume, business plan, paying taxes, so I have more work to do.  I also have to figure out how to get more work!  I definitely am “busy learning on the learning curve” as Jeb in Donna the Buffalo sings in “Conscious Evolution”.  One of my favorite DTB songs, I once wrote a paper on the song for one of my classes at American University.

On the Beach condo front, we should close on Friday though I am not convinced we will.  What a cluster this whole transaction has been.  I started to write down all the craziness but think I better not.  Suffice to say I will be so glad when this is done. I plan to go to the closing and then stay at the beach for 2 weeks, something I have dreamed of doing for awhile.

I do love to make lists so have lists of all the things that I will take down to the new place.  Also saw two good book lists in the Post this weekend.  From this article on Heres what to read this summer if you are entering law school, several books caught my eye – In Cold Blood, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Federalist Papers.   I have read the latter two before but am sure they are worthy of a re-read.

Another book list comes from the Post’s Book World, 23 books we’ve loved so far this year, several on here caught my eye, Delicious Foods, Not what you would think, more of a thriller than anything, The Green Road and The Whites look intriguing also.

I am reading How to Retire Happy, Wild and Free, lots of good ideas and advice.  And I felt wild and free in June when I went zip lining for the first time.  A bit scary for sure, I admit to shaky legs on the first one or two jumps.  I will definitely do this again.IMG_8445IMG_8519 IMG_8595